Local Kids Lace Up for the Martian Marathon

The annual Dearborn race's most rapidly growing component is youth participants–a segment Running Fit hopes to make into lifelong runners.

While several thousand adult runners will come to Dearborn on April 14 to participate in the Martian Marathon, there will be plenty of smaller tykes lacing up their sneakers as well for the event’s Kid’s Mini-Marathon.

Randy Step of Running Fit–the Michigan-based business that puts on this and more than 20 other runs in Michigan–explained that the kids portion of the alien-themed event has become one of the most popular since the Martian Marathon came to Dearborn in 2006.

“We had 300 (kids) participate the first year,” Step said of the Kid’s Marathon. “(Event Coordinator) Mandy Hetfield has really been instrumental in its growth. In 2011, we had over 1,000.”

The kids include around 25-30 groups from schools and local clubs, plus individuals. Each kid is charged with the task of logging 25 miles before the Martian Marathon race; the last 1.2 miles are completed on the race course starting at .

Many of those groups are started at Dearborn schools. Step and Hetfield make visits to those and other metro Detroit schools and groups that are interested in participating, but it can’t happen without a staff member or parent who wants to make it happen.

“It’s usually set up as a lunchtime or after school program,” said Step. “So it’s not going to happen if there’s not a principal, teacher or parent who wants to bring it to their school.”

has more than half of their student body participate every year, and other schools and groups are catching on as well.

HYPE Athletics, for example, is partnering with Running Fit for the first time to get their youth involved in the Martian Marathon. Most of their kids, explained HYPE Director of Community Relations and Development Justin Cessante, will be taking part in the water and spirit stations along the marathon course, handing out water and making noise for the runners as they pass by.

It’s a perfect fit for the Dearborn-Dearborn Heights-based HYPE, which focuses on health, fitness and wellness for local kids.

“We’re going to get five spirit stations out that will motivate the runners during the race,” Cessante explained, adding that Dearborn bank Member Focus Credit Union will also be helping the HYPE team out at the Martian Marathon.

“It’s just the beginning,” he added. “We hope to maybe start a running club.”

And that’s the overall point, Step said: to get kids to see running as a real sport, and possibly a lifelong pastime.

“There’s a lot of kids miles out there, but I thought that’s kind of shallow,” he said. “But to train and put in mileage and have a goal–we found that these kids really get it.”

Next year, Running Fit hopes to partner with the City of Dearborn's Recreation Department, too, bringing in more youth and adult participants.

And Step’s goal for the Kid’s Marathon? “We hope to make it the largest kids race in the country.”

Join the Invasion: Martian Marathon 2012

When: April 14

Where: Races begin and end at Dearborn's Ford Field Park


  • Full Marathon: $69 through March 14; $79 March 15-April 12; $90 April 13 through race day
  • Half Marathon: $49 through March 14; $59 March 15-April 12; $70 April 13 through race day
  • 10K: $34 through March 14; $39 March 15-April 12; $45 April 13 through race day
  • 5K: $29 through March 14; $34 March 15-April 12; $40 April 13 through race day
  • Kid's Marathon: $19 through April 12; $25 April 13 through race day

Visit www.martianmarathon.com to register.


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